Is Kristen Wiig's Cheetah really the main villain of Wonder Woman 1984? Sure, Cheetah is a classic Wonder Woman villain and will play a villainous role, she doesn't seem like main villain material. It seems Wiig is actually playing an adaptation of the third incarnation of Cheetah from the comics, Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva. The character was created by Len Wein and George Perez back in 1987, but the movie seems to be basing the Cheetah on a more recent, retconned history.
An expert in the study of mythology, Minerva discovered proof of the Amazons, and actually launched several attempts to discover the island of Themyscira. It was only when Wonder Woman arrived in the world of men that Minerva's theories were proven correct; she and Diana became firm friends. Unfortunately, Minerva's continued obsession with the ancient gods left her under the influence of the fictional African deity Urzkartaga. She was cursed with the powers, and the cannibalistic appetite, of the Cheetah; although Diana had promised to come to her friend's aid, she failed to do so in time, and the twisted Minerva blamed Diana for her misfortune.
It's easy to see how Minerva's story could be adapted to the DCEU in a very similar fashion. She's an archaeologist renowned for the study of mythology, perhaps even attempting to find Themyscira. After so many decades in the world of men, no doubt Wonder Woman would be keen to revisit her home, and would find Minerva's theories deeply exciting. The two could easily become friends - and then, of course, tragedy would follow, as Minerva is transformed into Cheetah. But that doesn't really make Cheetah the main villain of Wonder Woman 1984. So who will be the one ultimately pulling the strings?
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The Real Villain Could Have Created Cheetah
We already know that the DCEU's version of Cheetah will be heavily influenced by the popular run of comic book writer Greg Rucka. As part of DC's popular "Rebirth" initiative, Rucka subtly retconned the origin of Cheetah. He revealed that Dr. Minerva's African expedition had actually been funded by the wealthy Veronica Cale, who was being forced to work for the twin sons of Ares, Phobos and Deimos. Knowing that Minerva's expedition was doomed to tragedy, Cale ensured a high-tech communicator Diana had given her friend was turned off. Cale was actually the one who was responsible for creating Cheetah; she was the one who had encouraged Cale on her trip, and whose money had made it possible. She was also the one who ensured Wonder Woman would arrive too late to help.
This is the perfect way to use Cheetah. She works best as a secondary character, one who wavers between the light and the dark, with Diana desperately attempting to redeem her friend. Cheetah is most effective when she's a "shades of gray" character, straddling the worlds of heroes and villainy, and could potentially even become an ally in Wonder Woman's battle against the real villain. In the case of Rucka's "Rebirth" run, Cale was the real villain. In just the same way, Wonder Woman 1984 could use Cheetah as a part of the story, rather than its main focus. Minerva could be as much a victim as an adversary, one who has been cursed as part of a sinister plot against Wonder Woman and against the world.
Does the Title Tease the Real Villain?
There's actually some evidence to support this idea. The reality is that, so far, the marketing approach for the Wonder Woman sequel has simply seemed rather odd. Even the film's title - Wonder Woman 1984 - just doesn't quite make sense. While we've known for a year that Wonder Woman 2 would be set in the Cold War Era, there's nothing particularly significant about the year 1984 - certainly nothing that explains why that year is so important as to be part of the movie's title.
But it's possible the title is important for another reason. 1984 was a dystopian novel published by George Orwell in 1949. It imagines a world in which Great Britain ("Airstrip One") had fallen under the sway of a fascist regime, led by "Big Brother." Big Brother used surveillance techniques to monitor everything a person did, and the book constantly repeated the paranoid stanza: "Big Brother is watching you." Many scholars consider 1984 to be one of the most influential books ever written, and it's very much shaped how we perceive the ideas of fascism and the surveillance state. Could the title of the Wonder Woman sequel actually be evoking Orwell's novel?
Supporting this idea, notice the graphic Warner Bros. used to tease the title. The text is fizzing and popping, as though showing on an old TV screen. The "snow" effect is pretty distinctive and certainly points to the idea that this film is somehow connected to surveillance, to being watched upon a monitor. If the title of Wonder Woman 1984 is intended to point to an Orwellian dystopia, then Cheetah is indeed a secondary character - most likely manipulated by the main villain. But who could that villain be?
Page 2 of 2: Who Could Be The True Villain of Wonder Woman 2?
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020